1. UNDERSTANDING YOUR DESIRED INDUSTRY AS AN EMPLOYEE
I wished I fully understood the competitive nature of the Media industry and its fast changing demands or advancement in terms of technology, technical knowhow and the high demand for level-headed graduates with advanced skills set that goes beyond what is simply taught in lecture halls. You would realise most things you’re taught is subject to change when you join the workforce.
I entered the media industry with pure passion and drive with an ambition to change society, be the voice of the voiceless, touch lives and be a part of the discourse that brings about positive change in the country. I achieved that anyway to a certain degree but I was hemmed-in often by the changing dynamics and leadership direction of News Directors, Editors, Line supervisors, Producers and senior colleagues in the newsroom. I didn’t anticipate that, I only came in ready to learn with passion and deliver.
I actually learnt the hard way to understand the industry and the working environment. At some point, the only options available to make my case in challenging situations was to use the unconventional(confrontational) means. This is simply because I didn’t understand the ‘heckling bit’ of the industry and the ones supposed to bring you in on the facts were the ones wielding the bully rod. It was a test of character, staying power and fortitude. It is a marathon in there.
Try to understand that industry you so desire to be a part of before making entry – it prepares you adequately for eventualities and builds your resilience.
2. PREPARING ADEQUATELY FOR COMPETITION IN YOUR DESIRED INDUSTRY
Getting a degree(double Master’s) or graduating with a distinction is not enough to sustain you in the Media industry. It is a place of high demand for the best and highly skilled but also a place for the most competitive. Being academically good and knowledgeable is great but if you’re not skillful enough to suit the changing demands of the Media industry, then it means you’ll struggle alot whether you end up as a management staff or a normal staff.
Working in one of the best Media houses in Ghana, I saw how employers demoted and promoted staff periodically based on their competitive nature and ability to meet targets and demands of the clients. The routine trickled down to management staff who made sure staff under their supervision would measure up to their expectations without excuses. Anything else means you’re not ready to secure your job.
One time, a lady with a Master’s degree and other professional certificates joined us in the newsroom. She was actually introduced as a new staff. The original routine I observed was for one to join the newsroom as an intern to understudy(or prove themselves worthy of) the robust structure, work routine and demands before receiving the appointment letter. Obviously, she lasted only four days and submitted her resignation letter. She couldn’t finish her first story(It was the Nigerian Embassy Anniversary), I was paired with her to do a different story on the same occasion and I delivered. She *chickened* out. Be competitive.
3. BUILDING CAPACITY PERIODICALLY TO IMPROVE YOUR SKILL SET
In education, we all write down several footnotes on building capacity or climbing the academic ladder to achieve the desired qualification or “letters” that boosts one’s confidence and gives job security. However, the winding storms of life can overwhelm you along the way and that dream would only sit on your to do list. Potential to do is not enough until it is put in action to give desired results.
In your desired industry, what you learn in the lecture halls and on the job overtime can be outmoded and get you ‘rusty’ in a few months. A new wave of technology, technical knowhow or new advancement in skill set can make you lose your job or position to someone who is always at par with the new and best ways of doing things. In the media industry, experience can make up for a lot of things but not in capacity building. For instance, having command over language with great presentation skills won’t be enough in this digital era. Can you operate the camera or simple gadgets like your phone to bring us the news in the most discomforting circumstances? Wake up and smell the coffee – build capacity!
In my days with arguably the best Media house in Ghana, I had a senior colleague who was always on the Internet looking for new courses in competitive institutions both locally and internationally to pursue. She was very good as a presenter, producer and a reporter. She was always on the move to add up to her knowledge and skill set. She could single handedly produce a show(edit her scripts, edit visually, schedule her interviewees) and sit in as the presenter. She told me I could do what she does if I put my mind to it and that’s how I applied to enter the university. Narkwor Kwabla told me one time that I may be good in writing but that isn’t enough to sustain me and her words were so true. I was actually hit by the reality ‘tsunami’ but I was lucky to have already made the move to put academic credentials on what I had learnt on the job. She was actually the only senior colleague who won a CNN Award for breaking bounds during the ebola pandemic. Don’t stop learning.
By Listowell Acquaye
The writer is Media Practitioner & Gospel Minister